page1 In the beginning the United States spanned the east coast, but at the country grew there was a need for expansion. The western expansion would be a product of the growth of the United States. This expansion would see many hardships and tragedies on of the most famous would be that of the Donner Party. "The hardships faced by the Donner Party forced them to use their survival instincts. The fate of the Donner Party proved the dangers of cross-country travel." The fate that faced the Donners would fall upon many other caravans of settlers looking for a new life in the west.
The Donners were a group of immigrants from Illinois trying to reach there destination of California. They would start off in the spring of 1846. The caravan lead by George Donner would contain 87 Donners. They were determined to make it to California quickly going through a pass that had never been traveled prior to they're attempt.
The pass was called Hastings's Cutoff named after its founder Lansford Hastings.
He proposed the party follow him through the Wahsatch Mountains and the Great Salt Desert of Utah, a path he claimed would cut hundreds of miles from their journey. This decision to take the untried path would prove fatal.
Hasting would start off a few days ahead of the Donners. "Hastings had great difficulty traversing the Wahsatch mountains and arid Great Salt Desert, but managed to cross the pass before the onset of winter."(Tony's Donner Party Site:12/19/00) The page 2 Donners wouldn't be as fortunate with hundreds and large wagons they would not make it through. They would be stranded in the Sierra.
The weather was getting worse as summer would vanish and the cold would start to set in. "All knew that death speedily awaited...